Can you say Reductio ad Hitlerum?

I knew that you could.

Today I’m initiating what will be a very occasional feature, the “Can
You Say…?” What this feature will consist of is sharing an obscure or
entertaining word or phrase and what it’s about.
On with today’s phrase!

Reductio ad Hitlerum: This is an associative logical fallacy, a variant of the better-known fallacy Reductio ad Absurdum.
Basically, this fallacy
consists of a statement that boils down to “Hitler or the Nazis
supported X, therefore X is evil.” Since Hitler and the nazis are
almost universally abhorred, it can be very effective but is still
fallacious thinking because a position is not rendered evil by
someone’s support for it, regardless of the nature of the one doing the
supporting. For example, Hitler believed in technological innovation,
but his support for it does not in and of itself make innovation evil.
Likewise vegetarianism. Now, many of Hitler’s positions were in fact
evil and horrific, but these positions would have been wrong even if
there had been no Hitler. Well, except maybe genocide…

This post was inspired by a recent mention of the tangentially-related principle of Godwin’s Law. See the wikipedia entry on Reductio ad Hitlerum for a more in-depth definition.

Hitler never wore a seat belt. You don’t want to be like Hitler, do you?

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Can you say Reductio ad Hitlerum?

I knew that you could.

Today I’m initiating what will be a very occasional feature, the “Can
You Say…?” What this feature will consist of is sharing an obscure or
entertaining word or phrase and what it’s about.
On with today’s phrase!

Reductio ad Hitlerum: This is an associative logical fallacy, a variant of the better-known fallacy Reductio ad Absurdum.
Basically, this fallacy
consists of a statement that boils down to “Hitler or the Nazis
supported X, therefore X is evil.” Since Hitler and the nazis are
almost universally abhorred, it can be very effective but is still
fallacious thinking because a position is not rendered evil by
someone’s support for it, regardless of the nature of the one doing the
supporting. For example, Hitler believed in technological innovation,
but his support for it does not in and of itself make innovation evil.
Likewise vegetarianism. Now, many of Hitler’s positions were in fact
evil and horrific, but these positions would have been wrong even if
there had been no Hitler. Well, except maybe genocide…

This post was inspired by a recent mention of the tangentially-related principle of Godwin’s Law. See the wikipedia entry on Reductio ad Hitlerum for a more in-depth definition.

Hitler never wore a seat belt. You don’t want to be like Hitler, do you?

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